I caught up with a friend over drinks the other day. 1.5 daiquiris later and the D-word arises.
“Where did you find this one then?” I ask, glancing at her phone screen.
Pause: I mean dating. Come on now.
“Oh, he’s this guy from work. He’s great. So great. So handsome, so funny…he’s smart and he’s good in bed. He’s perfect. But I can’t be with him right now, you know?”
“Gotta embrace my final year as a student. Look at this guy I found on Tinder, what do you think?”
Most of my friends are single and most of our conversations concerning guys begin like this. The “oh yeah there’s someone” followed by “oh no he’s not the one”. Or the “oh yeah we slept together” followed by the “it was awful, he broke down about his ex” speech. I love nothing more than indulging in my friends’ love lives, but as a female in a relationship that has spanned my entire university life, I often find myself trying to understand situations I have never encountered. I’d like to think of myself as a grown-up (okay, maybe half a grown-up), but have I done any ‘grown-up dating’? Nope. But that’s okay, right?
Apparently not. The single girls are told to keep at it and embrace the freedom. You do you, girl. The girls in relationships are told to live a little instead of “hiding away with Netflix and bae.” University is the time to “find yourself”- not somebody else.
The reality is this: the single girls feel disillusioned with the whole process and the non-single girls feel as though they’re “doing life” wrong.
Stop telling us what we should be doing. It time for some myth-busting. These observations are the product of many 1am or later conversations on the subject (the only way to ensure honesty and accuracy, duh).
- The non-single girls have ‘got it together’.
Relationships still equal success in some people’s minds. That’s the end goal to the endless string of mediocre meetings in dimly lit bars…that’s the prize. You can combine your names and become one sickly ‘hashtag couple goal.’ The reality is that being in a relationship doesn’t mean you become some kind of superwoman. You don’t gain the other person’s knowledge and skill set just because you spend time with them; you are still your own person with your own flaws. There is no level up for finding a human being that you want to spend time with.
- Single girls are having more fun.
Those who don’t really date live a life of freedom and those who do seem to be out with a different guy each night: wining, dining and going to new places. I admit, it sounds kinda fun. Even the crazy stories: the running into exes, the disastrously awkward silences and gross goodnight kisses… they’re all their own stories to laugh over the next day. The reality is that most single girls have gotten bored by around date four. The same old introductions and emotionless goodbyes get tiring when they become repetitive. Being single isn’t always the wild time coupled-up people think it is.
- Non-single girls don’t want to have fun and spend time with friends
We all know that girl who got into a relationship and was never seen again (sinister movie title right there). I think it’s fair to say that lots of us struggle to balance our time between people: be it our partners, our friends, our parents or our cat. All these individuals require our attention! Once the honeymoon period wears off, every person who hid away with their partner realises that nothing can replace their friends. If your loved-up bestie isn’t answering her phone, let her know how you feel- but she’ll be back soon. And if she isn’t, then I’d advise taking her off your list of priorities too.
- Single girls must get lonely
Being single at university is far from tragic. You’re not destined to become an old spinster just because you’re alone in bed after a night out or spending Valentine’s Day with your flatmate watching rom-com after rom-com and crying to Ben and Jerry. We all get lonely and all need to take time to connect with a variety of people in order to avoid this. Being single is as empowering as being with a partner is: taking time to prioritise yourself and building your relationships with your friends is far from a sad scenario.
We’re all prone to looking at the people around us and presuming that they have it better. We’re all prone to falling into the belief that the situation we’re in is not the situation we should be in. The pressure of university life is enough: we shouldn’t have to listen to society, the media or even our peers telling us which ‘state’ will bring us more happiness. Being single vs being in a relationship shouldn’t be down to a list of pros and cons- leave that to the schoolgirls we once were, scribbling up lists of potential boyfriends and analysing whether we want sporty Jack or smart Nathan on pink-lined Hello Kitty diaries.
As women we are enough alone, and with another person we should be too. As is so often said to the singletons of the world, I say to everyone:
You do you.
Image via Meredith Kress